By the prompting of the Holy Spirit and with her love and concern for minority babies, in 2008 she founded AHEART Ministries, the non-profit organization dedicated to assisting families with infants in crisis. AHEART was initiated in response to court observations that revealed the sad cases of infants in need of permanent homes. Some babies were not developing or thriving normally in the hospital environment that they were “signed over to.”
To help correct this problem, the Special Hearts Boutique was created to locate and support the families and/or individuals who step up to care for these special babies. This program was led by Robbin Hargrove, a former Case Supervisor of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties. She thought of how many babies were suffering from having the lack of a family connection. AHEART is open to families with infants and children under age 2 that are in serious need. Participants must bring in their child and a referral to receive assistance. We provide educational classes on a variety of topics because our aim is to build our participants up and not just be a family service agency that gives “hand outs”.
Infant Mortality Rate
In 2010, the U.S. infant mortality rate was 6.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, and the United States ranked 26th in infant mortality among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.
AHEART’s main focus is to mentor and support teen mothers. Often these young girls find themselves homeless and in desperate need of daily support. Many times infants fall subject to government welfare programs due to long waiting lists, waiting periods between birth and assistance, and the lack of providing basic baby supplies. Our future goals are to provide housing for homeless, pregnant participants and single mothers of children 2 and younger. There we will provide young and lower income mothers the type of support that was once available solely to middle and upper-class women who hired private doulas. AHEART plans to provide doulas at the 7th month of pregnancy and continue to provide support until the baby is two to three months old. All expectant teens will also be paired with an AHEART mentor, who works with them until they turn 21 or their child turns 2. Our educational goals are to teach the parenting skills that are necessary in raising healthy, happy, and well cared for children.
1. Special Heart Boutique
- AHEART's retail boutique is for families that need assistance in infant clothing, towels, wash cloths, socks, hats, formula, baby food, hygiene products, and baby furniture. Participants receive aid once a month. Just as a regular consumer store would need straightening, the Special Heart Boutique also needs fixing up. We receive product donations consistently and they must be recorded and properly put away. Another part of this program is the exchange program in which participants can exchange their baby's too small clothing for clothing in our boutique as long as it's in good condition.
- Baby Urgency Response Program. This program gives out baby bags full of newborn clothing, wash cloths, diapers, and formula to mothers that give birth to infants and have nothing prepared for them. This program aims to build relationships with the ACPD, ACFD, DYFS, and any other agencies that may respond to emergency situations involving infants. We want them to be supplied with infant products and clothing in case they come across an infant that has nothing or lost everything and is in need. Many stores that provide infant items are closed or too far away to obtain in the midnight hours.
3. AHEART Diaper Bank
- AHEART's Diaper Bank is the only one in South Jersey. We collect diaper donations in every size and type for families that have infants and need assistance in diapering their baby. There are countless individuals that cannot afford the expense of diapers and begin to endanger a child's health when they reuse a diaper. WIC and other government assistance programs do not provide funds for diapers.
4. AHEART Baby Showers
- Baby Showers are the foundation of AHEART. Baby showers is the source of the Special Heart Boutique and Diaper Bank. At the baby showers, individuals, organizations, churches, and anyone else participating in one will learn why AHEART exists, how they can help, as well as play fun games and win prizes. Without baby showers on a constant basis, the majority of AHEART's donations would dry up and cause us to use money to buy things in need.
5. AHEART for Dads
- AHEART for Dads is aimed toward fathers. It allows an infant to receive twice the emergency assistance each month. Factoring Fathers In is another program within AHEART for Dads where the importance of having a father in a child's life is promoted. The Daddy Gift Exchange is a male form of a baby shower. It has the same aim as the AHEART baby showers, but has games and prizes geared for men.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can receive aide?
AHEART is open to families with infants and children under age 2 that are in serious need. We do not enroll infants at the age of two. The infant services will stop when they turn 2 and are therefore able to receive assistance from the state and other local agencies. Anyone 21 and under will automatically be qualified to enroll. The mother and father of the child are both allowed to receive assistance separately or collectively once every 30 days. Participants must bring in their child and a referral to receive assistance.
Who can write referrals?
AHEART accepts referrals written on letterhead from agencies like DYFS, hospitals, partnered churches, partnered social service agencies, and doctor offices. Without a referral from one of these organizations, a participant can only receive emergency assistance once, but must have their child present on their visit.
How often can I receive aide?
At AHEART, a participant will be allowed to receive assistance in the form of necessary infant clothing, formula, diapers, wipes, bottles, and other basic essentials once every 30 days. Furniture such as cribs, high chairs, car seats, swing sets, etc will be given out first come first serve as long as participants have completed one class within 30 days. Participants must make an appointment with the receptionist to come in and must bring in their child to receive aide.